Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
FULTON, NY – When Jo Ann Butler began researching her genealogy she was captivated by the records she found regarding her eighth great-grandmother, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter. Living in 17th century New England, Long was one of its most notorious women. “I have been fascinated by Herodias Long’s brave heart since I first read about her. She was a very modern woman. Her actions today would not be considered scandalous, however in the 17th century it was almost unheard of,” said Butler.
As Butler discovered more information about Long she became inspired to tell the story of this courageous and determined woman. Based on the true-life escapades of Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, Butler has written a compelling and sensitive historical novel, A Scandalous Life: Rebel Puritan. The book explores the limited rights of women in a restrictive society, seen through the eyes of a thirteen-year old girl trapped in an abusive marriage.
“Women in the 17th century had it rough,” added Butler. “Their homes, children, and money belonged to their husbands. Divorces were rarely granted, and only for adultery or abuse. That abuse had to be very severe in a society that accepted the English ‘rule of thumb.’ A husband was legally allowed to correct his wife by beating her with a stick, as long as the stick was no thicker than his thumb. Herodias had a terrible choice to make: to stay with such a husband, or become a homeless pauper who might never see her children again.”
Butler said that court records and other contemporary documents served as the outline for Rebel Puritan. In addition to bringing to life Herodias’ struggle for freedom from an abusive marriage, and for autonomy in a world which saw women as little more than their husbands’ property, the novel also examines Puritan society in an era noted for its intolerance. “Quakers, Catholics, Baptists, and Jews were not allowed in Puritan colonies. Many people were banished, and a few were executed for challenging Puritan religious beliefs. Herodias and her family followed banished friends to more liberal Rhode Island, but the girl’s marital woes were less easily escaped,” added Butler.
Backstreet Books & Bistro, 201 Oneida St., will welcome Butler for a special book signing to be held Dec. 10. Butler will be at Backstreet Books & Bistro from noon to 2 p.m. to greet customers and sign copies of her historical novel, A Scandalous Life: Rebel Puritan.
Butler’s first novel and the initial volume in a series about her eighth great-grandmother, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, is currently available at Backstreet Books in Fulton, rivers end bookstore in Oswego, and online at www.rebelpuritan.com. The second novel in the series, The Reputed Wife, is planned for a 2012 release. For more information on the book signing, call Backstreet Books & Bistro at 598-5669.
A program of Oswego County Opportunities and funded in part by the NYS Department of State, Community Services block Grant, Backstreet Books provides the Fulton community with a fine selection of gently used books, it serves as an educational and training resource for those involved with OCO’s programs as well as Youth Works, Experience Works and New York State Department of Labor programs as employees at the bookstore obtain valuable retail experience to help prepare them for future job opportunities.
A private, non-profit agency, OCO’s many programs touch the lives of more than 28,000 Oswego County residents each. One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO employs more than 650 people and boasts a volunteer force of 1,000. Now in its 45th year, OCO continues to build partnerships and is on a roll as it strives to improve the quality of life in Oswego County by helping people, supporting communities and changing lives. For more information, visit OCO’s website at www.oco.org